The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project, a charity which acknowledges the horse’s unfaltering service to mankind throughout history, has been announced as the official charity of Royal Windsor Horse Show 2018, taking place from 9 – 13 May in the private grounds of Windsor Castle.
The project has been created to raise funds for a memorial to the horse named The Free Spirit Horse Memorial, which will be located at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and will be unveiled in 2018 to coincide with the centenary anniversary of the end of the First World War.
The memorial will be accessible to able bodied and disabled, providing a tactile as well as a visual experience, with seating for reflection and contemplation, information plaques in braille for those who are visually impaired, Makaton symbols and dyslexia approved font to aid communication. This accessibility was of paramount importance to the project organisers as it mirrors the horse, who does not judge but treats and respects each person as an individual, bringing together all members of the community without prejudice. The horse has been, and continues to be, a strong, loyal and dedicated companion through war, industry, sport and therapy and the Free Spirit Horse Memorial aims to pay tribute to this honourable and emotive creature.
As part of its charitable aims, the Free Spirit project also provides education around the role of the horse through art, music and history to ensure that the significance of the horse is taught to future generations. In addition, the project promotes the importance of equine therapy for the most vulnerable in society and reaches out into communities by visiting schools, care homes and mental health facilities.
Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward said: “We are delighted to be supporting The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project in 2018 as we mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I. Horses have played a vital role in the development of our country throughout history, whether in conflict, work, rehabilitation or sport and leisure. Royal Windsor Horse Show is an annual celebration of top equestrian sport and entertainment, so this partnership is a natural fit, commemorating the role of horses in society, past and present.”
Tracy Francis, Chair of The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project, added: “The horse is central to the community that is created at Free Spirit; these intelligent, compassionate and emotive animals break down barriers and are unprejudiced in their approach to everyone who works with them. The Free Spirit volunteers work passionately to share this and to acknowledge the role the horse has played in society in the past and present, and will play in the future. The project is extremely proud and honoured to be charity of the year at the prestigious Royal Windsor Horse Show and it is a great opportunity for the ongoing work and commitment of the project to be recognised in the public spotlight.”
Exeter Racecourse has announced that one of the sport’s brightest talents, Bryony Frost, is the racecourse’s new ambassador for 2018.
Devon born and bred Frost has witnessed a meteoric rise to fame this season and on Boxing Day became only the second female jockey in Britain to win a top-class race over obstacles when she steered Black Cotton to success in the Kauto Star Novice Chase at Kempton.
But her roots are firmly set in Devon and the 22-year-old expressed her delight at coming on board with her local racecourse. “To work with Exeter, which is just down the road from where I was born and brought up, is fantastic. I’ve been coming here since I was a child and to be the ambassador is really cool. I’ve ridden a few winners at Exeter and it’s a great course where lots of my friends regularly go racing. I love riding there too.”
Frost’s role will include a regular blog that will appear on the racecourse’s website and in local papers and making appearances on family day, ladies night and when her racing schedule allows.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said adding, “I love talking to kids about racing and stopping for a chat with people. If it can get more people interested about racing it has to be a good thing.”
Frost’s father Jimmy was successful in the 1989 Grand National riding Little Polveir and on Morley Street in the Champion Hurdle in 1991. He rode his last ever winner at Exeter Racecourse on Bohill Lad in 2002. Her brother Hadden was also a successful jockey and partnered Buena Vista to victory in the Pertemps Final at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival and now sources and breaks in horses.
Bryony started riding the yard’s donkey, Nosey, before she could walk, and was hunting with the Dartmoor Hunt by the time she was four, sticking close to the then master and huntsman Mike Weir.
She recalls: “I was his shadow and it really taught me everything about riding and how to look after horses properly riding across Dartmoor’s tough country. I always admired the way the hounds looked up to Mike. He taught me how to think fast going over the bogs and the difficult terrain, he taught me good horsemanship and Dartmoor’s weather really toughened me up.”
Bryony started in pony races when she was just nine-years-old before she graduated to point-to-points notching up 55 wins between the flags and winning the National Novice title when she was 17. This year she won the St James Place Foxhunter at the Cheltenham Festival and then turned professional in July.
Exeter’s General Manager Jack Parkinson said: “We’re so pleased that Bryony has come on board at Exeter as our ambassador. She and her family are incredibly popular here and we’re very proud that we will be working closely with Bryony to bring both racing and non-racing folk alike an insight into life as a leading lady jockey. What she has achieved is incredible and long may her success continue.”
March 24th, 2018 heralds the return of National Equestrian Safety Day, a safety awareness day aimed specifically at the equestrian community.
The day has been created by the Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund (www.mdirf.co.uk) a registered charity dedicated to helping those injured through riding, handling or working with horses. Now, for the second year running and tying in with the charity’s 30th anniversary, the charity are more keen than ever to promote their work and safety around horses as Rosemary Lang, Administrator and Fund Co-ordinator explains:
“As the clocks go forward, more riders return to the saddle and the competition season starts. This day is to remind equestrians to stay safe around horses at all times and also to raise awareness of our valuable work & the continuing need for equestrians to support us so that we can help you, should you ever need us.”
For further information on the charity & #nationalequestriansafetyday go to:
The weather was kind, the crowds welcoming and for those equestrians who participated in the London New Year's Day Parade under the hugely popular 'All The Queen's Horses' section, it was certainly another fantastic event to remember by all who took part in this annual event.
Eleven months of planning by the riders, helpers and organisers ensured that for two miles, through some of the most famous streets of London, the crowds were treated to a spectacle of colour and entertainment courtesy of 'All The Queen's Horses' with magnificent costumes for both equine and humans!
The theme this year, ‘Circus & The Showman’, certainly offered plenty of inspiration for the 60 horses and equestrians who took part, introducing their unique interpretations to the delighted crowds that lined the streets.
From colourful clowns, through to performing acrobats on horseback to lion and elephant inspired costumes, the level of commitment and passion from those who participated in this year's event was outstanding, as Caroline Marsh, organiser and ‘All The Queen's Horses’ founder explained:
"This year's event was our best yet. The horses, riders and helpers never cease to amaze me with their enthusiasm, support and creativity when it comes to their costumes. Months of hard work is over in a matter of hours, but the buzz we all get from being involved is so strong that as soon as we head back to base camp after the parade, we are already talking about next year!"
"I need to thank everyone who helped us this year from my team of helpers, the riders, handlers, the transport drivers and our wonderful vet, Michael Byers from Shotters and Byers, all of whom, we couldn't do this event without!"
Caroline went on to add:
"If you have never been to the parade, you really are missing out on one of London's greatest free to attend events. There is loads for the family to enjoy and the equestrian element is a huge pull for the crowds."
Photography by Jo Monck
STATEMENT FROM NINA BARBOUR, PRESIDENT OF THE LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL HORSE SHOW
"I would like to express my immense thanks and gratitude to the emergency services, the Echo Arena staff, riders, grooms and support staff, the general public and the City of Liverpool following Sunday night's events.
"The understanding of everybody who were preparing to celebrate New Years' Eve and were left in Liverpool with no transport was nothing short of remarkable, and the offers of help and support from people - they ran into the hundreds - for anyone who needed assistance will never be forgotten.
"It was with considerable regret that last night's final session of the show had to be cancelled due to a serious fire in a multi-storey car park near to the Echo Arena, and on advice from the emergency services, who worked tirelessly all night to contain and extinguish the fire.
"My thoughts are also with those who have lost their vehicles and possessions as a result of the fire.
"All people and horses are safe and secure, and I thank spectators, riders and support teams for their understanding and co-operation during what was a difficult situation.
"I am very proud of our own teams who pulled together in the most demanding of circumstances, and managed to quickly and calmly evacuate all horses from the venue in a safe and controlled manner.
"We have worked very closely with the Echo Arena team over the last three years - their support and hard work has been integral to the event's success to date, and our thoughts are with them, and the city of Liverpool.
"We are not going to let go of what we achieved in the first five sessions of the show, and we will be back to do it again next December."